Peer Mentor Ishmail on winning the Prison Educator of the Year award

Home > Peer Mentor Ishmail on winning the Prison Educator of the Year award

25 September 2019

This is my first ever experience of prison life and I continue to pray it will be my last.

I still remember the first night after bang up, all alone in the cell, looking at the four walls. Tears rolling down my face, crying profusely, thinking what is going to happen to me and my family, how are we going to get through this? Some weeks passed and I reminded myself to ‘adapt in order to succeed’.

Passionate about always helping others to succeed, I always remained non-judgemental, optimistic, and reached out to all those I could support to the best of my capacity and ability.

Their success was my success and only together we could achieve the results.

I was working in the prison kitchens for the best part of six weeks, cooking some of the finest curries, when Neville from the Education department approached my Kitchen Manager and decided to poach me from under his nose. I accepted the role of a Peer Mentor as it was a trusted position. Every day was a challenge. I keep an up-to-date diary in class, recording the ups and downs, progress and tasks ahead.

On many occasions learners would refuse to engage with Education. As always I would use my life skills to convince them otherwise. Their success was my success and only together we could achieve the results.

Read about all the PLA Award winners here

I didn’t reflect on the amount of learners with no basic functional skills, rather I continued to support and build confidence in every individual that I engaged with.

There were many positive and memorable experiences from my role. The one that put the biggest smile on our faces was working with an ESOL learner, very reserved and a real challenge. He wouldn’t communicate much with anyone. Having gained his trust and friendship, I engaged and interpreted however he could understand – continuously demonstrating using drawings, signs, pictures.

I thank all those who nominated me. It is an absolute honour to win.

He would attend every session, week after week, making good progress. He built the confidence to participate in group activities and discussions. Awaiting his deportation papers I was working against the clock to ensure he passed before he departed. He made us all proud. He passed his Maths and English, Entry Levels 1, 2 and 3, and his hard work and perseverance achieved these great results.

I thank all those who nominated me. It is an absolute honour to win. I was emotional when I learnt that my fellow prisoners and staff from the Education department at HMP Haverigg wrote such strong and positive comments, expressing their gratitude and praise. I believe it was a team effort, we all deserve the recognition, because without them I wouldn’t have won.

“All Praise is to my Creator who makes everything possible.”

© Prisoner Learning Alliance 2019

whois: Andy White Freelance WordPress Developer London